Wednesday | October 20, 2021

How Quality and Quantity of Sleep Impacts Academic Performance

Children and teens require more sleep than adults to perform at their best. Even with marginally more sleep, they’ll be better prepared both physically and mentally to perform to the best of their abilities.

In a perfect world, you could let your son or daughter in on this nugget of wisdom, and they would quickly adopt sleeping habits which are conducive to good grades.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world.

Nevertheless, here are six reasons you should strive to get your kids to sleep more. Their grades will improve, and they’ll likely be a lot more charming and co-operative at home, too!

1. Memory

Have you ever noticed that when you have a restful night’s sleep, you tend to have better recall for names, to-dos, and basic facts?

The same goes for your kids. It might be tempting to let your kids stay up to all hours of the night studying and cramming for a test. It’s better for their brains to study earlier in the day, catch some zeds, and then approach the test or exam with a refreshed mindset.

The Sleep Foundation has done thorough studies, and discovered that a good night’s sleep:

  • Prepares the brain to absorb data into memory
  • Process the information, and reason through it for understanding
  • Retain the information, and prepare the brain to return facts/info when needed

If you haven’t left this page to find out how to join The Sleep Foundation, you can do your own studies at home. If your whole family starts to get more sleep, you’ll remove the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) factor of staying up late, and help everyone’s memory to recall how helpful this blog was.

Not to mention, your son or daughter will improve their memory of when they need to do homework, take out the garbage, or do the dishes!

2. Anxiety Relief

When your kids sleep, their brain produces serotonin and norepinephrine chemicals, which help to reduce stress and anxiousness. These chemicals are created by your brain’s neurotransmitters when allowed to rest during deep (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

The kind you have when you dream.

If you were an anxious child, you might remember how it was difficult to do your best at school when you felt nervous or stressed out at school. You might still feel that way at work.

3. Healthy Lifestyle = Better Sleep

Many of the behaviours which are beneficial to good performance at school, are the same which lead to good health.

They include:

  • Exercise
  • A balanced, healthy diet
  • Limiting stimulants like caffeine, screen time and sugar
  • Getting enough fresh air

If your child has healthy meals, snacks and stays away from too many soft drinks and chocolate bars, they’ll likely find it’s easier to sleep. It’s a good idea to have your son or daughter get outside and burn off some anxiety by playing a sport, riding a bike, or taking a walk.

By enjoying these activities with your child, you’ll improve your own sleep patterns.

4. How Much Sleep Is Enough?

If you have a teenager, or teenagers in your house, encourage them to get as close to nine hours of sleep as you can. It may seem like a lot, but it’s the recommended amount of light and deep sleep, according to the US National Institute of Health. (See link just above).

Infants should get sixteen hours of sleep, and children should get something in between.

Sleep deprivation may seem like a great idea when a favorite TV show is on, or a video game achievement is just within reach, but consistent shortage of sleep will cause a neurological “crash” of sorts, once your sleep bank is overdrawn.

5. Sharpen Attention

Attention in class is critical. If you find your teen or child isn’t paying attention to you at home, their teacher(s) are likely seeing the same behaviour. Focus and attention are directly impacted by the amount of sleep you have, so encourage your child to get a full eight or nine hours.

If you can avoid arguments at bedtime, you’ll create the best environment for sleeping for everyone. Conflict, as you know, builds up stress or excitement. Try reading a story, encouraging your child to read a paper book, and try to build consistent habits before bed, so life is predictable. An hour of quiet, calmness and serenity before bed is a good way to ease into sleep. When kids don’t get enough sleep, they tend to get hyperactive, as opposed to tired like adults.

6. Improve Creativity

A rested brain can also spur creativity, as it can source different regions of the brain, and create relationships between thoughts better. The attributes above can help improve memory and logic for classes like math, history or science. If you have a child who is very artistic, it’s a good idea to remind them once in awhile that more sleep can stimulate their creativity too!

If your child can focus and maintain their attention for extended periods in the classroom, and retain what they are taught more effectively, their academic performance is sure to improve.

Sleep also helps improve metabolism, which can help to reduce weight. If your child is struggling with weight issues, encourage them to adopt healthier behaviours including diet, sleep and exercise, and their academic performance could benefit.

If your child is struggling in school, try encouraging sleep as a way to cope with the stress and demands of the school day. Calm, supportive conversations, as opposed to conflict and argument is the best way to encourage good sleep habits.

June 1st, 2017

Posted In: Athletics, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Nutrition Tips to Enhance your Child’s Athletic Performance

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if your child is active in sports, proper nutrition throughout the day becomes essential. The right foods and drinks will fuel their bodies and their minds.

There are many resources parents can consult for information about this important topic. There is the Canada Food Guide, your child’s coaches, nutritionists and your paediatrician. In general, experts will agree that it’s essential for your child’s diet to include foods from the following categories:

  • protein – meat, eggs, nuts and dairy
  • carbohydrates – whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • vitamins and minerals – dairy, fruits and vegetables
  • fats – meats, cheese, nuts and oils

Make sure they start their day off right with foods such as eggs, oatmeal, nut butters and fruit. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks to keep their energy up between meals. Lunch options might include a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a whole grain pita with banana and peanut butter or leftovers from dinner. Great snack options might include cheese, fruit or a handful of nuts.

To improve performance before a game or practice, children should eat two to four hours in advance to give food time to digest. Fuel up pre-game with a snack that includes carbohydrates and protein but is also low in fat and fibre. Bring a snack for longer practices, competitions or events, such as a sandwich, fruit or nuts. Energy bars are convenient, but whole foods are just as energy rich. After a game, aid recovery by drinking water and having a snack that also includes carbs and protein. Carbs give the body and brain energy while protein helps build and repair muscle.

Active kids might need more calories than the average child because they are burning more energy when they participate in sports. As a general rule, kids ages 6 to 12 need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day, but every child is different.

It’s also important that children hydrate with water, not juice, pop or sports drinks, which can have added sugar, caffeine and calories. Use a refillable water bottle and ensure your child drinks before, during and after activity to prevent becoming sick from dehydration. It’s recommended that kids have between 6 and 10 cups of fluid a day.

Typically, children should not diet no matter the sport or activity. As they are still growing, they need a balanced diet. Restricting calories, skipping meals, or adopting a diet high in protein or low in fats or carbohydrates can be harmful to both their physical development and mental health.

Studies show that there are many ways to encourage healthy eating habits in children. Many kids tend to naturally prefer carb-heavy diets, which isn’t good for kids in general, let alone athletes. If your child’s diet is limited to specific foods, for instance, you might want to take them to the grocery store and allow them to select a new food each time. Have them help out in the kitchen and prepare dinner or lunches with you. If they don’t like a certain food once, make it again and and again, and encourage them to try a bite every time. Eventually they might find their tastes change or that they are open to new experiences. Even if your family has a hectic sports schedule, try to plan healthy meals in advance so you’re not rushed or temped to feed them junk food in the car. When you can, sit together as a family. Eat slowly, spend time together, make it an enjoyable experience and model healthy eating habits yourself.

Parents concerned about their children’s diet or nutritional needs should contact their pediatrician or a dietician who specializes in children and athletes.

 

December 9th, 2016

Posted In: Athletics, Nutrition

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


« Previous Page